by E.E. Cummings
in Just- Theme of Innocence
The children in "in Just-" are so innocent that they don’t even bother to be offended by the fact that their names are strung together in clumps of words. Only mature (or self-centered) folks would get concerned about things as silly as self-identity. Everything seems happy, but there may be danger on the horizon. Maybe the balloonman is only around to make children happy. Maybe he’s the signal, however, of a time when the children playing will be chasing after things they don’t need and can’t afford – just like the adults do. It’s a complicated world out there, kiddies. Balloonmen are just the beginning.
Questions About Innocence
- Is the balloonman innocent? Why or why not?
- Why do the children come running when he calls?
- Is youth the same thing as innocence in this poem? How can you tell?
- Why do you think the balloonman has so many adjectives tacked onto his description? Why do the children have none?
Chew on This
By ending "in Just-" with a return to the balloonman’s whistle, Cummings suggests that the balloonman plays a central role in maintaining the innocence and joy of spring.